Trauma stories: rewriting the past through fragmentation in Spanish testimonial literature

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University of Alabama Libraries

Of all of the literary genres, that of the testimonial narrative is perhaps one of the most difficult and complex genres to study, analyze, and interpret. Combining elements and theories of memory and trauma, history (both written and oral), psychology, sociology, autobiography, gender, and cultural studies, testimonios have proven to be rich in complexity and bursting to the brim with various interpretations and cultural impacts. Upon reading both individual and collective testimonios produced within Spain and France by men and women in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and the duration of World War II, I have identified four primary types of fragmentation that serve not only as means of working through the haunting effects of a traumatized past and creating and re-negotiating new identities, but likewise demonstrate intentional resistance to previously established cultural norms (e.g. those solidified under the fascist regimes of Francisco Franco and Adolf Hitler). These forms of fragmentation include: temporal fragmentation, fragmentation of the voice/narrative subject, stylistic/structural fragmentation, and identitary fragmentation. Accordingly, all four forms are not only essential—and obvious—characteristics of the texts I will analyze in this dissertation, but, upon closer analysis, are also vital to the very act of witnessing, working through traumatic memories, recalling experiences, and (re)writing history. In essence, they are the strategic and textual means through which testimonial narrators are able to reclaim their positions as active participants of History and re-assert themselves in public discourse.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Literature, Holocaust studies